National Park Service Considers Raising Climbing Fees on Denali, Rainier

709px Mount Rainier 5917s

The National Park Service is considering raising the fees for climbing both Denali and Mt. Rainier, two of the most iconic, and popular, peaks in North America. These discussions have caused several climbing advocacy groups to speak out against the proposals, which would institute steep increases in costs for climbers.

The proposal would see the cost of climbing Rainer rise from $30 to $50, while Denali would go from $200 up to $500, an increase of 250%. The proposal says that the increase in costs will go directly to training more climbing rangers and other ways of keeping people safe on the mountain. It also hints that future price increases could be linked to the U.S. Consumer Price Index.

The Access Fund, American Alpine Club and American Alpine Guides Association call the rate increases “unnecessary and unfair” and joined forces to draft a letter to protest the move which they think will limit the ability of many climbers to actually scale those mountains. They also accuse officials of planning to put the fee hikes into effect without allowing the public to comment, something the Park Service denies. 

While these fees are not a foregone conclusion at this point, it does look like they are most likely coming sooner than later. I’m a bit torn on my thoughts on these fee hikes. On the one hand, in the greater scheme of things, these aren’t big jumps. A $20 increase for going up Rainier probably won’t make or break it for most climbers, although $300 more on Denali is a bit of a hit. But considering the expense of that climb, and the challenges involved, it isn’t likely to be a deal breaker for those mountaineers either. Also, the fees seem to be intended for a good use as well, as making the climbs safer is always a good plan. 
On the other hand, fee increases in this economic climate seem like a bad move. Politically it sends a bad message, and when people are struggling to make ends meet, any rise in cost can be seen as bad. 
So, what are your thoughts? Is this an acceptable move or bad timing?
Kraig Becker

5 thoughts on “National Park Service Considers Raising Climbing Fees on Denali, Rainier”

  1. No big deal on Rainier…if you've climbed one volcano, you've climbed them all. But an extra $1000 for a 2-person team climbing the Cassin and getting no benefit is absurd. The only real benefit is for West Butt climbers, many of whom can't poor piss out of a boot with the directions written on the heel. Let them pay extra, not real alpinists.

  2. if they can truly prove that all the money will go towards hiring and training more climbing rangers, I'm OK with it, but really, overall, I think it's a bad move

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